#HumanRights Council appoints Special Rapporteur on #Eritrea

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By the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Action on Resolution on the Situation of Human Rights in Eritrea

In a resolution (A/HRC/20/L19) regarding the situation of human rights in Eritrea, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council strongly condemns the continued widespread and systematic violations of human rights committed by the Eritrean authorities, including arbitrary executions, enforced disappearances and systematic use of torture; the severe restrictions on freedom of opinion and expression; the forced conscription of citizens for indefinite periods and the shoot-to-kill practice employed on the borders of Eritrea to stop Eritrean citizens seeking to flee their country. The Council calls upon the Government of Eritrea to end its use of arbitrary detention and torture; to release all political prisoners, including the “G-11”; to allow regular access to all prisoners; to put an end to the policy of indefinite military service; to allow humanitarian organizations to operate; to end ‘guilt-by-association’ policies that target family members of those who evade national service or seek to flee Eritrea; to cooperate fully with the United Nations, in accordance to international human rights obligations; urges Eritrea to make available information pertaining to Djiboutian combatants missing in action since the clashes of 10 to 12 June 2008 so that those concerned may ascertain the presence and condition of Djiboutian prisoners of war. The Council decides to appoint a Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, to report to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly; and requests the Secretary-General to provide the Special Rapporteur with the resources necessary to fulfil the mandate.

Djibouti, introducing draft resolution A/HRC/20/L.19/Rev.1 on behalf of the Core Group, said that the draft resolution called for the creation and appointment of a Special Rapporteur to report on the human rights situation in Eritrea. Unfortunately, despite all appeals launched, no tangible steps had been taken by the Government of Eritrea to honor its commitments. It had hit a wall of denial and had not provided information on the identification, safety and health situation of detained persons. Through this resolution, a strong signal would be sent to the international community that the situation could no longer be tolerated and inaction was no longer admissible. The Core Group expressed its wish that Eritrea fully cooperate with the Special Rapporteur and allow a visit, and provide all the information necessary for the fulfillment of the mandate. It requested the Human Rights Council to support the resolution.

Eritrea, speaking as the concerned country, said that the amendments had not changed fundamentally the unfounded allegations contained in the previous version of the draft resolution. As a small, least developed country, Eritrea had a limited capacity and faced protracted hostilities aimed at destabilizing its Government. It believed that the international community had failed to contribute to the peace and stability of Eritrea. Despite facing significant challenges, there were no human rights violations in Eritrea. More specifically, there was no forced labour in Eritrea; the participation of Eritrean diaspora in efforts to liberate their country had been a voluntary act inspired by patriotism and courage; the issue of the missing persons from Djibouti would be settled under the supervision of Qatar. The aim of the draft resolution was to pursue a politically motivated strategy to destabilize Eritrea. Eritrea therefore strongly rejected the draft resolution in its entirety and called upon the Council’s members to reject it too.

Russia, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that it was against the adoption by the Council of politicized country resolutions, especially those that were submitted against the will of the concerned country. In this respect, the Russian Federation disassociated itself from Council consensus on this resolution and asked that its position be reflected in the report of the meeting.

Cuba, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that it would not support the draft resolution, which was against the will of the concerned country. Cuba stressed the need to avoid politicization and selectivity in its Council’s work.

China, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that it maintained its consistent position on country specific human rights issues. China was in favour of constructive dialogue and opposed the politicization of human rights. China also hoped the Council would conduct its work impartially. It disassociated itself from the consensus on the draft resolution.

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